OR STORMTRACKER GLOVES
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
January 16, 2009
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
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ed dot morse at charter dot net
Grawn, Michigan USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
145 lb (65.80 kg)
I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lbs (32 kg) with food but no water. Since that first time I have made one and two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Late last summer I did a 2 week hike on Isle Royale. My starting pack weight was 32 lbs (14.5 kg), including 10 days of food and 3 qt (2.8 l) of water. I am slowly learning what lighter gear works for me.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.outdoorresearch.com/site/index.html
Listed Weight: Avg. weight: 3.8 oz./108 g (size L, per pair)
Measured Weight: 4.1 oz (116 g) my size Large
The gloves came in a clear plastic sack in the shipping package. They were attached to a hang tag which appeared to be intended to hang on a display rack. There is more information on the hang tag than on the website. There were two other tags attached to the gloves; one identifying Gore Windstopper and the other stating "Outdoor OR Research".
The website describes the Stormtracker gloves as; "The ultimate in backcountry versatility; the StormTracker Gloves provide unprecedented dexterity and tactility. Innovative MotionWrap AT construction provides articulation that allows the glove to bend and curl with the fingers so that detailed tasks are no longer a nuisance. The breathable/water-resistant WindStopper Soft Shell fabric is tricot lined for winter-time warmth."
The gloves are available in two colors, grey or red. I chose red so I could find them easier if I laid them down when taking a break from trail work.
Since I don't do backcountry climbing I would be more inclined to describe the gloves as nice lightweight work gloves. They are listed under work gloves on the website and the hang tag is marked work gloves. The gloves are a relatively soft, slightly stretchy and very flexible fabric.
|Stormtracker gloves back|
The palms, fingers and thumb are faced with a soft flexible leather.
|soft leather palm|
The gloves are a darker red than my pictures indicate. I'm not sure if it is the light or my camera.
The inside of the wrist is very stretchy so my hands can slide in easily and the wrist is still snug when I have the gloves on. There is a 3.4 in (8.6 cm) zipper on the back of the wrist that opens revealing a black triangular very stretchy insert.
There is also a small snap fastener on the side of the wrist of each glove so they can be snapped together.
|Small Wrist Snap|
There are two small triangular gores in the leather on each side of each finger.
|Gores in finger leather|
The size large fits my hands just the way I like work gloves to fit. Since I buy gloves in size large this indicates to me that the gloves are true to size.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
There was not much in the way of instructions, just a single sentence on the hang tag. It stated; "OR recommends occasional use of waterproofing treatment on leather palms to maintain performance in wet climates".
TRYING IT OUT
My first experience with the Stormtracker gloves was a little arm powered weed whacker work in my yard. During July and August I've also worn the gloves during four days of trail work. Yes, the gloves were a little warm with high temperatures from 72 F (22 C) to 84 F (29 C). Boots, long pants, long sleeve shirts, gloves and hard hats are required in the Manistee National Forest where I do most of my trail work. I don't consider the gloves to be especially warm, they are just required safety equipment. The gloves are comfortable and protect my soft hands very well.
I will wear or carry the StormTracker gloves for all day hikes and trail work during the testing cycle. When the weather gets colder I will also wear or carry the gloves for hiking and backpacking. Before the test period is over we will have enough cold and snow for skiing and snowshoeing.
During the test period I will answer the following questions:
Will the StormTracker gloves allow me to use all the tiny little buttons on my GPS?
Will the StormTracker gloves allow me to use my camera without taking them off?
Will the StormTracker gloves be comfortable when I'm using hand tool or a chain saw?
Are the StormTracker gloves water repellant enough to keep my hands dry when moving wet or snow covered branches off the trail?
How durable are the StormTracker gloves?
Will the seams and material endure several months of hiking, trail work, a little skiing and some backpacking?
Is the material of the palms and fingers durable enough for using tools in colder weather?
Will the StormTracker gloves stand up to the demands of trail work?
In addition to the above questions I am sure I will think of more questions as I use the StormTracker gloves. I will describe my experiences with the StormTracker gloves, including any problems I find. I will also include several pictures to show the StormTracker gloves in use.
The OR Stormtracker gloves are comfortable, light weight and flexible gloves to wear, which I like very much. I like the soft leather facing that looks and feels like goatskin. This kind of work gloves are hard to find.
At this time there is not much I can say I don't like at this time. True, they are a little warm for our present weather but any gloves are too warm for this weather. Work gloves are required for the areas where I do trail work.
This concludes my Initial Report please continue on to read about my field experiments and use of these work gloves.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
The locations where I've worn the Stormtracker gloves are the Manistee National Forest, Consumers Energy property adjacent to (and northeast of) the MNF, doing projects around home and in my vehicle driving.
The weather has ranges from a sunny high of 65 F (18 C) to dark and starry 23 F (-5 C) on the two backpacking trips, one of two nights and the second just one night and six day hikes. It was a little warmer for the trail work days but three work days included frequent rain.
I've worn the gloves for 6 trail work days, mostly helping to build or rebuild bridges.
|Building new trail|
Two trail work days were building new trail, including removing several trees with my chainsaw.
I've also been using the gloves on a home project to keep winter weather out of our screened deck. This involves moving lumber and using both hand and power tools. The deck is roofed but the temperature has generally been around 30 F (-1 C) when I start each day.
I've also worn the gloves 4 days doing boundary work for a local Land Conservancy. The present project has been all bushwhacking through a swamp area with a good supply of briars and down trees to work my way through, under or over.
Since it has been getting colder I've worn the gloves every day for driving.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Overall, the gloves have treated my hands well. I can say without reservation these are the best work gloves I've ever used. The snug fit and flexibility are great when using hand and power tools. I can use electric drills for bridge work then use hand wrenches to put in bolts for bridge supports. I can use a power drill to drive deck screws and even pick up the screws one at a time.
I did get the gloves wet thoroughly and soaking wet on two days of bridge work. One day was all day rain which got everything wet. When I got home I hung the gloves over a line to dry. The other day we had to remove all the logs and debris from a creek that pushed most of the supports from under an old existing bridge before we could put in the new supports. After this day I had to put the gloves in the washer to get all the mud off. I washed the gloves the same way I wash all my hiking clothes, with cold water and non-scented laundry soap. I hung the gloves over a curtain rod and they were dry late the next day. The leather facing took just a little flexing to be as soft and flexible as ever. I have not yet treated the leather. The gloves easily handle a little rain but they are not expected to be water proof.
As our weather gets colder the Stormtracker gloves are starting to let me down somewhat. When I started the last overnight hike at 9:00 AM the temperature was 25 F (-4 C). By the time I got my pack out of the Jeep and my gloved hands into the hiking pole straps to start walking my hands were cold. It took nearly a half hour of fast walking before my hands no longer felt cold. I wore the gloves all day. The high temperature for the day was 45 F (7 C) and the gloves were comfortably warm. I found that I can use the little buttons on my GPS, cell phone and camera with the gloves on. It was getting colder by the time I got my tent up and at 5:30 it was down to 35 F (2 C). I was able to do all the camp chores with the gloves on. Well, except one thing, I would not light the stove with the gloves on. I just don't like fire that close to nylon. It probably would have been OK but when I'm solo backpacking I can get cautious to the point of paranoia. I was in bed by 8:00 PM and expected to read for two hours. Instead I fell asleep within 15 minutes, still wearing the gloves. I woke at about 10 PM to turn off the headlamp and took off the gloves.
When I woke at 5:30 AM, nearly two hours before sunrise, the temperature was 28 F (-2 C) and I started packing everything I could in the tent. I get cold easily if I'm not moving enough to create heat. I had breakfast and finished packing up by 6:30 and the temperature had dropped to 23 F (-5 C). My hands and feet were very cold. My feet were warm within ten minutes when I started walking. I started walking as fast as I could while using the headlamp to see the trail so I could generate some heat. It still took over half an hour for my hands to get warm. The Stormtrackers are great work gloves but they are not warm enough for me at temperatures below 30 F (-1 C).
I've also been using the Stormtrackers for driving gloves. The leather palms protect my hands from the cold steering wheel and I can still touch the buttons to change radio stations.
I've treated the Stormtracker gloves like I would good work gloves. I have not tried to protect the gloves from harm, on the contrary, I've depended on the gloves to protect my hands from harm. Neither the gloves nor my hands show any damage from my activities over the last two months.
I think the OR Stormtracker gloves are the best work gloves I have ever used. They are light, very flexible and protect my hands well. There is not much more I would ask of my work gloves. On the other hand, they are not cold weather gloves. Even when using hiking poles, when I start out with cold hands it seems to take a long time for my hands to get warm. When I'm hiking without poles my hands just stay cold when the temperature is below about 30 F (-1 C). I have yet to see what they will do as cross country ski gloves in colder weather. I will probably take over mitts along.
What I like; the gloves are snug fitting and flexible, I can pick up individual screws and nails while wearing the gloves. When I wear any other work gloves I have to take one glove off to pick up screws or nails. When I close the wrist zipper I can put most jacket and shirt sleeves over the wrist of the glove. In my opinion trail work, both maintenance and building new trails is the best use for these gloves.
What I have some doubts about; Cold weather - the gloves have not yet kept my hands warm below about 30 F (-1 C).
This concludes my Field Report.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
The weather has varied from cool to cold for most of my hikes during the last two months. The high temperature while I was hiking was 64 F (18 C) one sunny afternoon, while the low temperature was 4 F (-16 C) when I was snowshoeing one afternoon. There have been a few rainy days and a few bright sunny days. We've also had more snow than usual this winter. Mostly the terrain has been rolling hard wood and pine forests. I've been on at least twelve day "hikes" while wearing the OR Stormtracker Gloves. I've also done one overnight hike in Florida.
The overnight was in the Ocala National Forest (ONF) in Florida. The weather was cooler than I expected in Florida but not much different than late summer in Michigan. The high temperature for this hike the first two days of December was 64 F (18 C) with a low in the morning of 38 F (3 C). Michigan is relatively flat compared with New England or the western states but Florida is really flat.
Day hikes were in the Manistee National Forest (MNF), the Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Pere Marquette State Forest, all in northwest lower Michigan. A few of these hikes were just hikes in the dunes, a few were on skis while most were on snowshoes. I've used the OR Stormtracker Gloves for all hikes I've done in the last two months.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I've been using the Stormtracker gloves nearly every day for driving for which they mostly work well. Sometimes my hands are cold until the vehicle gets warm inside. Other than driving, a trip to Florida and a trip to Arizona, it has generally been too cold to wear the gloves alone. When I'm using the snow blower to clean the driveway I wear breathable OR Snowline Mitts over the Stormtracker gloves. My thumbs and the tips of my fingers still get a bit cold.
My overnight hike was in the ONF in early December. I used a hammock for the first time while backpacking in the Ocala NF.
|backpacking in Ocala NF|
Here is my campsite at Hopkins Prairie in the Ocala National Forest, after filling all my water containers at the pump. Even with all the advantages (pump, tables, fire pits and outhouses), I decided again that I prefer not to camp in established campgrounds. It just doesn't feel like I'm backpacking in a campground. It was 38 F (3 C) when I woke in the morning. I put the Stormtracker gloves on as soon as I got dressed. I kept the gloves on, except for eating, for packing and for over an hour after I started hiking. I did find it a little difficult to light my stove with a cigarette lighter. The thin flexibility of the gloves made it fairly easy to pack my gear and still keep my hands warm.
All my day "hikes" have been in winter conditions either on skis or snowshoes. It is hard to decide whether I prefer snowshoeing or skiing. I wear the gloves under OR Snowline Mitts for both. I must note that there is no insulation in the Stormtracker gloves and there is only a light fleece lining in the Snowline mittens.
Here are two pictures that show why I like living in the North Country.
This picture was taken on a snowshoe hike with a friend in the Pere Marquette State Forest. The temperature was 22 F (-6 C) when this picture was taken. This particular area is called the Valley of Giants by the local hiking club due to the unusually large white pine and cedar trees in this valley. I like the combination of mittens over gloves so I can keep warm and still take off the mittens to take pictures or adjust bindings. The Stormtracker gloves are flexible enough I can take pictures or use my GPS with the gloves on.
|Manistee River and North Country Trail|
This picture was taken, while wearing the Stormtracker gloves, in the Manistee National Forest on a solo snowshoe hike. The OR Snowline mittens I wear over the gloves are on the fence near where my pack is hanging. In the summer this location is a popular boat launch area with steps down to the river. When I stopped for lunch it was 16 F (-9 C) and the scenery is great. My fingers and toes were a little cold for the first half hour. Then I started moving faster and soon I was warm all over.
I went skiing on a nearby 6.5 mile (10.5 km) trail. I started out dressed the same way as I had for snowshoeing. Very soon I was too warm. I took the mittens off and put them in my pack. I was surprised to find that for skiing, even at 20 F (-7 C), the gloves are warm enough for my comfort.
I finally went snowshoeing on a day when the OR Snowline Mitts over the OR Stormtracker gloves just were not enough. When I got to the Trail Head of a new section of the North Country Trail the temperature was 14 F (-10 C) and there was a strong wind blowing across the high ridge I was following. I hiked for about 45 minutes and my hands were just getting colder. I was using ski poles which usually helps keep my hands warmer. I finally stopped and got out an old pair of thick wool mittens I first used over 20 years ago. Within ten minutes my hands were warm and getting sweaty. After another hour the temperature had fallen to 7 F (-14 C). The wind had dropped to a light breeze along the backwaters at the same time the temperature dropped, so the overall cold effect was the same.
The last time I was out skiing my hands were cold soon after I got my skis on. Again, I was wearing the OR Snowline Mitts over the OR Stormtracker gloves. I skied about 1.5 mi (2.4 km) before my hands started getting warm. I checked the temperature and it was 4 F (-16 C). I was getting sweaty from exertion but my feet were slowly getting colder. The gloves did well in these conditions and with this activity.
There are too many variables to say that any item of clothing will perform a certain way in certain conditions. My age, physical condition and level of exertion all affect how comfortable or cold I might be. I now know what I can expect from the OR Stormtracker gloves in a variety of conditions and activities.
In my opinion the best use for the OR Stormtracker gloves is as work gloves. The Stormtracker gloves work well for all round use for me when the temperature if between 35 F (2 C) and 45 F (7 C). The gloves generally work well for me for snowshoeing in colder weather if I wear breathable mittens over the gloves. I've been wearing the OR Snowline Mitts which are lightly insulated with a fleece lining. This works very well for me with temperatures above about 18 F (-8 C). The combination allows me to keep warm most of the time and when I want to manipulate buttons on my watch or GPS I can pull off the mittens and the gloves allow me to do what I need. Below this, with most activities, I need warmer mittens. I found I can ski with just the Stormtracker gloves when the temperature is about 18 F (-8 C) and still feel warm.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
* Light weight so I'm willing to take them backpacking when I might need gloves.
* The wrist zipper, I can zip it and put coat sleeves over the gloves then pull mittens on over the coat sleeves.
* I can manipulate the tiny buttons on my GPS.
* The gloves breathe well, I've found no dampness wearing gloves and mittens and hiking hard with snowshoes.
* no insulation, on the other hand if the gloves were insulated I would lose the ability to pick up or manipulate small objects.
* not really a dislike, but it would be nice if the gloves could repel water a little more.
This concludes my Long Term Report.
I would like to thank Backpackgeartesters and Outdoor Research for the opportunity to test the Stormtracker gloves.
Read more gear reviews by Edwin L. Morse